Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

At Least Reagan Gave Us Cheese

Posted: Updated:

I hope House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't pose for the cameras with President George W. Bush in a signing ceremony of this misguided and regressive "economic stimulus package." An ill-conceived photo-op will come back to haunt the Democrats when the "package" proves to be a miserable failure and will only serve to put the Democratic Party's fingerprints all over this piece of legislative doo-doo.

What we need is not an economic "stimulus" that heaps more tax breaks on big business and corporations, and throws another $150 billion onto the national debt so that our kids pay it back, with interest, to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's billionaire friends.

What we need is a program modeled on Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Home Ownership Loan Corporation (HOLC), which purchased the junk bonds holding the mortgage debts of millions of homes and family farms and then renegotiated the loans reducing the interest rates so that ordinary Americans would not be thrown into the streets. The current bill that Rahm Emanuel and other DLCers claim is "progressive" is nothing of the sort.

The New York Times tells on its front page today that both Democrats and Republicans are "pleased" by the plan and that Bush made a "big concession" with this bill. What "big concession?" There's no extension of unemployment insurance or more funds for food stamps, and it's even larded with more tax cuts for the Republicans' corporate donors.

Nancy Pelosi is being railroaded. It's unnerving to see Pelosi sandwiched between the billionaire Paulson and the right-wing hack John Boehner in announcing this bill. As it now stands this act of Congress will do nothing to alleviate the current economic meltdown. Where's the $150 billion going to come from? Whose taxes are going to be raised to pay for it?

So sometime in mid-June I'll get a check for $600? That generous sum comes to about $12 a week for the fiscal year. Hosanna! S-CHIPS gets vetoed but families from the "Other America" will get a check in the mail so they can go out and buy a Nintendo Wii?

I'm still waiting for Pappy Bush's promised "peace dividend" check to come in the mail, and I never saw Bush Junior's $300 "rebate" check either.

This recession is different than any other in my lifetime. The national debt is higher than it has ever been and the government is paying about $200 billion a year in interest payments. The trade imbalances and current accounts deficits with China and the rest of the world are larger than they have ever been. In case Pelosi, Boehner, Paulson, and Bush forgot the United States is deeply involved in a debilitating occupation of a country of some 26 million people that is hemorrhaging cash out of our treasury at about $12 billion a month. Inequality is higher today than it was during the height of the Gilded Age or during the 1920s. The privatization, de-regulation, crony contracts, deficits, "free trade" deals that outsource jobs to low-wage countries, profligate spending on a tiny elite, kleptonomics, and general fiscal mismanagement by the Republicans (who ran the House, Senate, and Presidency from January 2003 to January 2007) have wreaked havoc with the economy.

At least Ronald Reagan gave poor folks "government cheese" after Reaganomics tanked the economy in the 1980s. I lived off the waxy, unpalatable substance for the better part of my early college years. Reagan said: "Let Them Eat Cheese." Today's "stimulus package" doesn't even include Velveeta.